I think that when an athlete straps on their skis they are aware of what could happen to them. Granted they are not planning on falling, but they could, there is always that possibility. when youre skiing everything youre doing is a result of your own actions, movements, muscles, etc. these athletes love what they do, and even after horrible accidents return to the sport. I dont know whether it is fluke that this year there are more accidents resulting in injury, or if it is a sign that the sport may be getting too fast. I remember seeing maier's accident in nagano, and it was apparent that he had no control over that accident and he was just going too fast for what he was trying to accomplish (that part of the course was a death trap anyhow, i remember watching it thinking that if anyone actually finished the course then they would automatically get the gold medal cuz they survived it). I dont think that any padding can save skiers from being paralized, it will just dull their senses more and inhibit their movement, which is bad when youre racing. Falling at 70 mph is not something that the human body was meant to do, ive fallen at 50, and it hurts, and shakes you up a little bit too, but its easy to see how these racers are so easily injured. It's all risk, they know what could happen to them if they fall, and they race anyways, because they love to do it. i think that if i were racing at that level and someone asked me if i wanted extra protection that could possibly inhibit my ability to go faster and stay in control, i would turn it down and feel safer i think. it is an interesting topic, but what can be done to make a 70mph fall safe??